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7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
13 Points

North Korea is a more serious threat to United States National Security than Iran

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/8/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,333 times Debate No: 15259
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (4)




North Korea poses a more serious threat to united states national security than Iran for the following reasons.

1. North Korea is attacking our allies and threatening us.
2. North Korea is proliferating and gaining military resources
3. Iran is simply not as dangerous as North Korea

1. North Korea is attacking allies
Last month, North Korea decided to attack their neighbors to the south, South Korea, with ballistic missiles. A south Korean island suffered 2 deaths, South Korea responded with more attacks of their own. Also, when the US and South Korea began military exercises in the wake of this attack, North Korea threatened extreme retaliation if they continued. If the North is attacking our friends, they are attacking us.

2. NK is proliferating and gaining military resources.

As it stands right now, North Korea is gaining huge strides in its nuclear program and has the fourth largest standing army in the world. NK is gaining the resources necessary to strike, and if given the motivation, they will do so. The nation bows to it's leader Kim Jong Il, altering its constitution and naming him "supreme ruler" and giving his philosophies high priority. The North Korean people will stand by him if he choses to fight.

3. Iran is not as dangerous.

Iran is simply not a strong military force. Sure, they can talk the talk, but they have not and will not walk the walk. The riots in Iran have caught the government off guard, and its response is to fire tear gas into crowds and terrorize it's own people. The Iranian government cannot handle it's own people correctly, how can it handle a war?

For those three reasons, we must see that North Korea is the most dangerous threat to US national security.



1. North Korea attacking allies

--> No link to U.S. national security

--> North Korea wont escalate provocations, risk of regime collapse from South Korean and U.S. intervention.

Myer 3, Carlton Editor: North Korean attack would stall after a few intense days and South Korean forces would soon be in position to overrun North Korea. American air and naval power along with logistical and intelligence support would ensure the rapid collapse of the North Korean army.

2. Proliferation

--> North Korea lacks incentive to go to war

--> North Korea does not have the ability to create functional ICBMs (CNN)

--> North Korea needs aid to keep regime stable. Any aggression that results in loss of aid or military action collapses the regime. Ha-Won, Chinese Center for Asian Relations

3. Iran is not dangerous

--> Threat to national security derives from terrorism, not conventional warfare

--> The Iranians crushed the rebels after the fraudulent elections


Contention 1: Iran has closer ties to terrorist organizations than North Korea

The Council on Foreign Relations writes:

Iran backs Islamist groups, including Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command…Tehran has sought to leverage the militant group, Al Qaeda, against U.S. interests. senior al-Qaeda figures maintained close ties to Iranian security officials and had frequently traveled across Iran's border.

AND North Korea lacks these ties

The Council on Foreign Relations [2] writes:

North Korea has not been associated with any acts of terrorism since 1987, when it was linked to the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight.

This means that North Korea lacks internal close ties to terrorist organizations, which makes the threat of terrorists looking to North Korea for nuclear weapons minimal to negligible.

AND Iran is proliferating

The Council on Foreign Relations [3] writes:

At Natanz, first-generation centrifuges purchased from Pakistan spin uranium hexafluoride at great speeds to increase the percentage of uranium-235, the principal ingredient for both power production and weapons capability. Natural uranium contains 0.7 percent of the uranium-235 isotope, and generally, light-water power reactors require enrichment levels of 3 percent to 5 percent.

The impact of this is that Iran has the capability now to sell or distribute nuclear materials to terrorist organizations.

AND this sparks regional proliferation, making nuclear terror much more likely

Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, writes

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan' warned that developments in Iran threatened to erode the entire nonproliferation regime to a point of "irreversibility" that could trigger a "cascade of proliferation." If Iran crosses its nuclear finish line, a Middle Eastern cascade of new nuclear weapons states could produce the first multiparty nuclear arms race, Egypt's prospects of it living unarmed alongside a nuclear Persia are very low.. Were Saudi Arabia to buy a dozen nuclear warheads that could be mated to the Chinese medium-range ballistic missiles it purchased secretly in the 1980s, few in the American intelligence community would be surprised. A new nuclear state goes through a period of "nuclear adolescence" that poses special dangers of accidental or unauthorized use-and Iran would be no different.. Fearing preemption, new nuclear weapons states rationally adopt loose command and control arrangements.
Debate Round No. 1


First my case, then my opponent's.

1. North Korea attacking allies.
The Department of Defense defines National security as :A collective term encompassing both national defense and foreign relations of the United States. Specifically, the condition provided by: a. a military or defense advantage over any foreign nation or group of nations; b. a favorable foreign relations position; or c. a defense posture capable of successfully resisting hostile or destructive action from within or without, overt or covert.

North Korea attacking our allies violates subpoint B, a favorable foreign relations position.

2. Prolif

Defense secretary Robert Gates stated in January that North Korea, in 5 years, will have the capabilities to perform a disastrous nuclear strike on the United States. This violates sub-points A and C of our definition of national security, because it does not give us a defense advantage, and it does not provide the United States with a defense posture capable of resisting hostile or defensive action. North Korea is indeed creating weapons that are intended to cause harm to us and our allies. According to the examiner in November 2010, North Korea possesses 2,500 tons of chemical weapons, and the artillery shells and rockets necessary to deliver them. North Korea possesses the means to impact national security in a negative and disastrous way. North Koreas foot soldiers are just as dangerous. North Korea possesses the 4th largest standing army in the world.

3. Iran not dangerous
Iran lacks the resources to attack Israel, let alone the United States. According to Juan Cole, (Prof., History, U. Michigan), in 2010, "Iranian jets do not have the range to reach Israel, and Iran's fleet of fighters is small and old, with many planes dating from the days of the shah. Iran does appear to have some missiles that might be able to reach Israel, though their range and accuracy are in question.
Also, Iran is dependent on North Korea.According to the Council of Foreign affairs in 2008, "It is reported that North Korea sold ballistic missiles to Iran and Syria, both designated by the U.S. state department as sponsors of terrorism." This shows that without North Korea, Iran would not be even close to as fearful as they are now. This truly proves that Iran is simply not as great a threat as North Korea. This shows that North Korea also contributes to terrorist organizations, and benefits Iran.

Opponents case

Iran ties to terrorists

While my opponent has stated that Iran has ties, it is never proven that Iran is contributing to any organizations attacks, nor receiving any help of their own. Also, the groups mentioned only strike middle eastern countries, as they do not have the means to strike the United States.

North Korea has ties with Russia
MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will work to develop relations with North Korea despite the international crisis set off by Pyongyang's nuclear test in October, the newly appointed Russian ambassador to the secretive Communist regime said Friday.
"Our goal is to develop and deepen these [Russian-North Korean] relations, despite the current situation," said Valery Sukhinin, adding that Russia and North Korea have traditionally enjoyed friendly ties.

3. Iran is proliferating.

Sure, Iran is making the attempt, but Iran can only manage to enrich uranium to 20%, while 90% is needed for weapons. The evidence my opponent brought up speaks only of energy, not weapons.



1. Attack on Alliance

--> He provides of definition of national security by the Department of Defense. First, I tried looking it up on google, and couldnt find it, but second, [turn] broad definitions of national security reduce efficacy and undermine civil liberties:

American Conservative, States News Service, December 29, 2010

But in a truly free society, there's no such thing as being risk-free. Toward that end, our federal government has more often become the enemy, not the protector, of American freedom. Just as today, national security is more often an excuse, not a legitimate justification, for government intrusion and growth.

--> Extend the Myer Evidence, he dropped it. North Korea wont escalate provocations.

2. Proliferation

--> Having the ability to strike, and actually doing so are two different things. Extend my 1st and 3rd responses that: (1) no incentive to go to war or use aggressive action and need for ad supersedes desire to use nuclear weapons

--> XA the Myer evidence

--> Opponent gives no motive as to why North Korea would threaten their survival to attack the U.S.

--> Taylor, Comparative Strategies write: "However, while the DPRK's military machine does not want for quantity, most of its capabilities are aging rapidly, and many are already obsolete. There are also numerous indications that the level of training of the North Korean armed forces is deteriorating. Moreover, morale amongst North Korea's personnel appears to be generally low." This evidence kicks the threat of the north korea's large infantry unit

3. Iran not dangerous

--> His Cole evidence has no impact because the threat from Iran doesn't come from its conventional military as ive said before. It comes from terrorism

--> His CoR evidence suggests that North Korea has sold materials to Iran and Syria. But what he doesn't tell you is (1) North Korea only has ties with the individual states and not the individual groups of terrorists and (2) at this point, it doesnt matter if they sold or not, Iran has many more ties and connections to jihadist groups


1. Iran and Terrorism

He says I dont provide that Iran sponsors terrorism and says not against the US

--> He ignores the CoR evidence compleely. Also the evidence directly states Al Qaeda, which was the group responsibile for 9/11. But even this wasnt the case, terrorism isnt hindered by the constraints of conventional warfare. All that is needed is a suitcase and a dirty-bomb

--> BBC says Iran is the largest supporter of terrorism

--> Iran outweighs North Korea because terrorism is the biggest threat to U.S. national security at this time, and Iran has closer links

North Korea has ties with Russia

--> No impact. Russia would never seek a Russo-U.S. war. Economic disaster for Russia

--> Extend the CoR [2] evidence, North Korea lacks direct ties with terrorism.

3. Iran is proliferating

Energy not weapons

--> Its true that 90% is needed for weapons-grade uranium. But again, my opponent seems to misunderstand symmetric and asymmetric warfare. Terrorists cant attach a fully functioning nuke on an ICBM and launch it from the middle east. Low-grade uranium used for low-impact or in a dirty bomb would be used within the U.S.

--> Extend the Allison evidence. Iran outweighs because successful and unhindered nuclear proliferation sparks a proliferation race within the middle east. This make nuclear terror much more likely.
Debate Round No. 2


First, my attack on Alliance argument.
First, the evidence he posted is a biased new source, you can see it in the name, so disregard it.
Also, my definition of national security is in this link. security

Looking at his Myer evidence, you can apply the same argument to Iran. Iran knows many nations are on Israels side, and that they simply cannot contend with all of thath, also looking at the fact that they do not have the means to reach the united states with any physical threat.

2. proliferation

Correct, having the ability and actually doing are different things, but this debate is not if North Korea will attack, only that they are a greater threat than Iran, so the argument about motivation and incentive is not topical to this debate. I will not address incentive to attack, as it is not what we are debating. All of my opponents evidence is opinion, while I have brought up statistics referring to North Korea's army.

3. Iran not dangerous.
Once again, the situation is whether Iran can harm the United States, not terrorist organizations. Iran is not the only sponsor of terrorism. If every nation that sponsors terrorism is a huge threat, we could add various african nations to the list.
Regarding my CoR evidence, the individual states are more powerful than individual organizations. Simply put, the fact that Iran is dependent on North Korea shows that North Korea is the larger threat.

Now to my opponents case,

1. Iran and terrorism
My opponent referenced 9/11. SInce then, global and national awareness of terrorism has increased, and airports have taken preventative measures to prevent attacks. The failed Christmas Day bombing a couple years ago illustrates this.

This evidence by The new director of national intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, clearly points out that the top threat to the US' national security is the worldwide economic crisis. Outweights his terrorism argument.

North Korea having ties to Russia was stated because Russia is a world power, and clearly outweighs terrorist organizations.

3. Iran Prolif.

My opponent directly contradicts his terroism contention with the quote,"Terrorists cant attach a fully functioning nuke on an ICBM and launch it from the middle east." While North Korea has been testing fully functional nuclear weapons for quite a while now.

A quote from the evidence, "The United States and its partners have pushed North Korea for years to abandon its atomic ambitions, but the North has conducted two nuclear tests and now claims it has 2,000 centrifuges producing uranium for a new reactor."

The world will agree that nukes outweight terrorism, and Irans program is flawed.



1. Alliance

Biased Source

--> All sources in politics is somewhat biased. But the fact remains that broad definitions of national security result in civil rights violations, e.g. the patriot act.

Myer Evidence

--> He says it applies to Iran, but Iran has a strategic advantage that North Korea does not. Iran has control over oil fields. Iran has in the past made the claim that any attempt against would result in the destruction or hindrance of oil, from fields and from passage near Irans waterways.

--> Whereas a nuclear strike from North Korea against say Japan South Korea would be noticeable and easy to cast blame, a terrorist attack would be hard to pinpoint to any one source. Plus Iran could always make the claim that the material was stolen.

2, Proliferation

--> He concedes ability to action are different, but he says it doesnt matter. It does matter on the fact that motive and intent is how we can gauge the threats. Since North Korea lacks incentive to use a nuclear weapon, and Iran has links to terror groups and jihadist mentality, then we can say Iran has more incentive and motive. Thus, Iran is a greater threat. For example, we wouldnt say Britian is a threat to the U.S. even though they hold nuclear technology, a rather formidable navy and army. This is true because Britian has no incentive to attack the U.S. Therefore, Britian is not a threat. Same applies to North Korea, they have no incentive, thus they arent a threat/

3. Iran not dangerous

Iran cant harm, terrorists can

--> The fact that Iran sponsors terrorism, makes Iran the greater threat. The harm is what has to be weighed, not the mechanism by which is being produces. Since Iran has greater linkage to terrorist groups, who want to harm the U.S., Iran is the greater threat.

--> Iran WAS looking for help from North Korea, but now isnt. Cant apply past actions to SQ threat situations


1. Iran and terrorism

Preventative measures

--> Failed terrorist attacks doesnt reduce the overall threat. All that is needed is a dirtybomb, provided by Iran, to explode in any major U.S. city.

Economic Crisis outweighs

I link in to this harm, vote Con:

Pollack, director of Middle Eastern Policy at the Brookings Institute, writes:

"The reason the United States has a critical interest in seeing that Persian Gulf oil continues to flow copiously is that the global economy built over the last 50 years rests on a foundation of inexpensive, plentiful oil, and if that foundation were removed, the global economy would collapse. The United States has an interest in preventing any potentially hostile state from gaining control over the region and is resources and using such control to amass vast power or blackmail the world. The three main problems likely to bedevil Persian Gulf security over the next several years will be Iran's nuclear weapons program, the risk is not so much conventional military invasion as attempts to shut down tanker traffic in the Strait of Hormuz as a method of blackmail or foment insurrections in neighboring countries."

The threat Iran poses, as opposed to North Korea, is that Iranian proliferation expands Iranian hegemony over the region which would give Iran control over the vast majority of oil production and transportation. Iran can, will and has done in the past choked the global economy by exerting its power over the waterways which oil is transported through.


--> Russia has no incentive to harm the U.S.

3. Iranian proliferation


--> My opponent clearly misunderstands weapon technology. Terrorists would not use an ICBM, North Korea even lacks ICBMs. Terrorists would use a suitcase bomb or a dirty bomb

==Voting Issues==

1. Threat: North Korea lacks incentive, whereas Iran has incentive. Iran has direct ties to terrorists organizations looking to harm the U.S.

2. Economic harm: Iran in unique position to have regional hegemony over oil. North Korea does not
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Zealous1 5 years ago
"Once again, the situation is whether Iran can harm the United States, not terrorist organizations. Iran is not the only sponsor of terrorism."

Once again, you're wrong. Con explained that correctly.

@Con: Next time when faced with the biased source thing, look for the credentials of the author. If he's someone who is knowledgeable on the subject, then state that and show how the fact that it came from American Conservative does not matter. It's who is writing it.

Good job cross-applying evidence.

I believe the issue about SK invading NK when they're weak was dropped by Pro, in that case it flows to Con.

Overall there were a few drops by Pro, a few illogical answers, and not much reason to take NK as a threat over Iran. Sources were tied because I didn't feel like checking each and every source of everyone.
Posted by TheParadox 5 years ago
I see that this is the March PuFo topic. Recommendation: you need to prove both countries have the intent AND capability to threaten/harm the United States. Just b/c North Korea has nuclear weapons, doesn't mean they are a threat UNLESS you can prove their substantial intent to harm us (which is improbable, as an attack on the US or its ally is a suicide mission for N.K.)
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Extremely-Far-Right 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Same what Zealous said, accept for the fact that he agreed with Pro before the debate.
Vote Placed by Zealous1 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: "Correct, having the ability and actually doing are different things, but this debate is not if North Korea will attack, only that they are a greater threat than Iran" Woah, so not true. Let's say NK had an unbeatable military. But they will not attack us since they're our allies. In that case they are NO threat. CiRrK correctly addressed that. It was pretty much dropped by Pro because of this response and Con takes out this point. See comments for more.
Vote Placed by y0ungDuB 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Kweef just proved to me through his superior logic that northkorea POSES a more serious threat to US national security than Iran.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: "this debate is not if North Korea will attack, only that they are a greater threat" if they will not attack then how are they a threat